<
Environmental Design Building
1060 18th Street
ENVD Rm. 1B60
317 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
(303) 492 8188 | pwr@colorado.edu

3030 - Writing on Science & Society Course Descriptions

The following list is alphabetical, by instructor's last name. Course offerings below are for the Spring 2018 semester. Check the current Course Schedule.

PERSUASIVE SCIENTIFIC WRITING, Dr. Eric Burger
This course has 2 primary goals: 1) to enhance your ability to make persuasive scientific arguments for general readers, and 2) to enhance your ability to write for academic readers in your specific disciplines. To these ends, the course will be divided into 2 parts. In the first half of the course, we’ll study Aristotelian principles of persuasion and focus on the challenges of doing scientific writing for lay audiences that might not trust scientific evidence as much as you do. This part of this course is topics-oriented and past foci have included energy policy, bioethics, NASA policy, transhumanism, and government regulation of scientific research. In the second half of the course, each student will research and rhetorically analyze the academic writing of his/her specific discipline, paying special attention to stylistic conventions and argumentative technique. We’ll conduct class in both discussion and workshop formats. Among other assignments, you will compose an in-class essay, a brief argument, a literary journalism piece, an analysis of disciplinary rhetoric, and a proposal.
WRITING ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY (HYBRID), Dr. Merrit Dukehart
Flexible. Responsive. Agile. These are words often used in academic and business articles that describe the type of communication skills employers are seeking. Why? We know that we have many more options now for how we communicate than we did two decades ago—how does this change the way we think about science writing? To answer these questions and more, this course focuses on how science is communicated in the news media, artistic/cultural works, in public policy, and within academia. We will practice writing in a variety of different formats, including an editorial on a science or technology based issue, a grant proposal, and a mock conference presentation. At times, we’ll translate your finished work to be appropriate for different audiences, and modes of communication like Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter. All the while, thinking critically about the affordances and constraints of written versus audio-visual communication. This class uses an innovative hybrid structure to help you identify, practice, and critique writing, reading, and research strategies that you’ll use as a student, citizen, and professional.
CROSS-CULTURAL WRITING FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: SUSTAINABLE CULTURES, Dr. Andrea Feldman
Cross-cultural writing is a section of WRTG 3020, 3030, and 3040 that is intended for non-native speakers of English who wish to enroll in an upper-division writing course. The course is taught as a rigorous writing workshop using advanced readings and materials, emphasizing critical thinking, analysis, and argumentative writing. Examples of assignments include daily writing activities used in scientific and technical communication such as memos, emails, wiki entries, resumes and cover letters. Course readings focus on cross-cultural communication in the arts, business, and scientific fields. Future work in these fields will require you to write and speak clearly to an inter-disciplinary audience; accordingly, coursework will include a formal oral presentation. Assignments will be tailored to meet the needs and interests of individual students. The final project for this course is to create a document related to the student's field that can stand on its own in the real world.
BUILDING UTOPIA, Matthew Henningsen, Ph.D.

Science, at its heart, is an act of creation and persuasion. It creates new ways of looking at and understanding our diverse social order… and, at times, attempts to create entirely new societies and worlds. It attempts to create utopia, that supposedly perfect world of “perfect science.” But, what are the limits of science? When does the scientific creation of a utopian society turn deadly, and actually morph into a dystopia? Can science really build our ideal societies? And, most importantly, can science be trusted? Can it successfully persuade us that it can be trusted with the responsibility for creating an ideal world? A better future? As a class, these questions will be our central, core foundations as we investigate science both as a force for social creation, and as a force for social persuasion. More specifically, we will study the utopian tradition from its ancient roots to its current manifestations, all the time analyzing how science is being used (or abused) in each unique social order, and how it is persuading us to accept its benefits and virtues.

In addition, in line with PWR Goals for this course, our investigations will coincide with our production of a wide variety of professional and scientific genres. You will write a report on a specific utopian text, and present this report to the class, craft an argumentative essay, and a memo, be responsible for maintaining a “Blue Print Journal,” where you compile notes on the societies we study, until ultimately fashioning an exhaustive National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal for a planned community project. This final project will be your chance to actually build a society with unique goals and objectives, and you will present your findings to the class at the very end of the semester. Your ultimate goal: persuade us that this society can in fact succeed, and that you deserve the NSF money to put it into action.

PIVOT: AGILE COMMUNICATION, Dr. Lonni Pearce

Flexible. Responsive. Agile. These are words often used in academic and business articles that describe the type of communication skills employers are seeking. Why? We know that we have many more options now for how we communicate than we did two decades ago—how does this change the way we think about writing? We’ll explore these questions in this course, using an innovative hybrid structure to help you identify, practice, and critique communication strategies that you’ll use as a student, citizen, and professional.

This course also asks the question: How is science communicated in the public sphere and how is it used rhetorically in discussions about environmental, social, economic, and political issues? We’ll focus on representations of science in news media, in artistic/cultural works, in public policy, and in industry.

STORYTELLING AND CONTROVERSY IN SCIENCE, Nathan Pieplow, M.Ed.

Do scientists need to be good storytellers? You bet they do. As an upper-division science or engineering major at a major research university, you are probably more science literate than the average American. But the success of your career may depend on your ability to communicate the importance of what you do to people who don’t understand or care as much. And unfortunately, research shows that raw facts and data aren’t very good at changing most people’s minds. Instead, to be most effective, the facts and data need to fit into a compelling story.

In this class, we’ll look at how to communicate science effectively, both within the world of professional researchers and beyond it. We will seek answers to many questions: Who is qualified to speak about science? How does one tell science from pseudoscience? What is a scientific fact? How can we explain science to non-scientists, and where does storytelling fit in?

The major project in this course will be to write a feature article for a popular science magazine such as National Geographic or Scientific American in which you synthesize secondary research, incorporate material from at least one personal interview, and present data visually in at least one original graphic. Other projects will include creating or updating your resume and designing and delivering a professional conference presentation. By the end of the semester you can expect to have gained significant practice and proficiency in communicating science to a multitude of audiences.